Proxy purchasing - a project to determine the awareness of the public in England of a new offence and improve practice
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Revealing People, United Kingdom
Improving Performance in Practice (iPiP), United Kingdom
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A685
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Background and challenges to implementation:
The introduction of an offence for proxy purchasing of tobacco in England in 2015 was well received as a means of tackling the supply of tobacco to young people.
The offence of a proxy purchase is committed by the adult that buys the tobacco product on behalf of the young person under 18 years, not the retailer that sells the product. It is not a straightforward matter for Regulatory Services to investigate or to take enforcement action on.
Little data was available to indicate the scale of the problem or how aware adults were of the offence.

Intervention or response:
The project gathered insights around knowledge of the law regarding proxy purchasing; how behaviours had changed; how awareness and compliance could be improved and how communities can be encouraged to support compliance.
Insight gathering was carried out systematically in two geographic areas among selected groups of the population. This method was positively received and generated additional information on other related issues.

Results and lessons learnt:
The results revealed that the term a proxy purchase was not recognised by the great majority of participants; the majority of participants had experienced young people asking an adult to purchase cigarettes; proxy purchasing was seen very negatively but legislation was generally not the reason why people would not proxy purchase.
It was widely recognised that proxy purchasing was only one way young people obtain tobacco. There was discussion with those interviewed about the relative risks of the ways young people obtain tobacco.
Participants identified a variety of ways of informing local communities. Including targeting specific groups to ensure that individuals received relevant information in appropriate formats.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
When planning future actions to ensure compliance with the proxy purchasing legislation, consideration must be given to the likelihood of any unintended consequences.